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PCA Ordains First Pastor of Iranian Descent

Hamid Hatami will serve as the leader of MEHR Ministries.

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Last month, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a conservative evangelical denomination founded in 1973, ordained its first teaching elder of Iranian descent who was raised in a Muslim family.

Elders praying over Hatami at his PCA ordination Feb. 11, 2024 / Courtesy photo

On February 11, over 200 people gathered at Town North Presbyterian Church in Richardson, Texas, to sing, worship, and pray during the ordination service of Hamid Hatami. (Another pastor of Iranian descent transferred into the PCA and serves in the Pacific Northwest.)

Hatami was born in 1984, five years after the Islamic Revolution in Iran that resulted in the closure of many Christian churches and expulsion of Christian missionaries.

His family were Shia Muslims, but he had uncles and other relatives killed for their political views.

At the end of high school, he suffered injuries from a terrible motorcycle accident and was unable to move for months. He kept asking God why this had happened to him. In 2002 or 2003, Hatami said he was working with a friend on a software program and found a chatroom on the internet where people talked about God being loving — a message he had never heard.

Hatami joined the chat room and began to learn about the life of Jesus and the Gospel message. He wouldn’t accept a printed copy of the Bible, but he found a PDF version online and began to read it. As he was praying for clarity about his beliefs, he asked God for a sign. Walking along the road one day, he looked up and saw a sign attached to a closed Presbyterian church.

It recited John 14:6, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Hatami was convinced of the Gospel and his life was changed.

In 2010, Hatami and his wife left Iran and moved to Turkey to work with refugees. In 2013, he moved to Dallas and wanted to attend seminary. But he had no transcript for his undergraduate degree in software engineering.

So, Hatami completed another bachelor’s degree in order to attend Reformed Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 2022.

Hatami’s call as a teaching elder in the PCA is “out of bounds” of the North Texas Presbytery as the director of MEHR Ministries. Hatami started MEHR, which stands for Middle East Heritage Reformed Ministries, in 2018.

MEHR Ministries is a “Reformed ministry, training and equipping servants of Christ to plant biblically faithful churches throughout the Middle East.” Hatami collaborates with the PCA missions group Mission to the World and works with the underground church in Iran to train leaders and help with church planting.

Hatami also hopes to plant a church for Farsi speaking Christians in North Texas. Estimates are that between 60,000 and 80,000 Farsi speakers reside in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Hatami says he is grateful for God’s sovereignty in having him acquire computer systems and software engineering degrees because it allows him to provide secure connections when working with underground church leaders in Iran.

Since 2019, MEHR Ministries has been involved in a partnership with Ligonier Ministries, the teaching ministry of R.C. Sproul.

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The partnership is a “great blessing,” Hatami said, because it helps increase the Reformed teaching materials available in Farsi. According to him, less than 1% of the Reformed materials in the Western world have been translated into Farsi.

Hatami checks the translations of the teaching resources, such as articles, books, and lectures for accuracy both in language and theology so the materials reflect accurate biblical teaching.

“Please pray for us as the team in Iran is on the front lines. Pray that they would be faithful in outreach and church planting,” Hatami said of the continuing work.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.